Book 1: Page 24

Kalsh: Don’t remind me of ‘The Performance’ I want to forget all of it.

On the edge of ocean
On the edge of ocean

Lady Penguin Patch-up: Forget it? You sound like a quitter. Is the captain of this school team a quitter? Every moment of your life is memorable. Every emotion is eternally engraved upon your soul. Don’t try to forget it son, embrace it. Use it to explore the music inside you. Such incidents will repeat endlessly in your life. Like a cycle of cause and effect, action-reaction. But you are one of those rare men who have the ability to break the cycle. Your classmates mock you because they have nothing better to do. But you, you have an ocean in front of you, waiting for you to set sail. This stage is your ship, you are meant to be there and not in this obnoxious sport. (She got up) there will be no play without you, Edward. (And she left). If you don’t show up tomorrow I will cancel the event.

She left me alone in the visitors lounge. My school uniform was perfectly tugged in and it did not leave any space for discomfort. But I knew that the lady who just walked out had actually walked in on me. There are holes in all of us, some big holes and some small ones. And we are miserable at finding these holes. Our ego is too bloated to let us see clearly. Therefore God makes sure that every man has a woman who takes up the responsibility of mending him. They, ‘Patch Us Up’. And that day, Lady Penguin Patch-up made an Edward out of a Kalsh and in the process she transformed a ‘Player’ into a ‘Performer’. She made me fall in love with myself all over again. I went to practice that day and the day after that and the day…

Book 1: Page 23

Lady Penguin Patch-up: You did not attend any rehearsals this week. It seems you fancy yourself as “Mr. Know-all Do-all”.
Lady Penguin Patch up
Kalsh: Not in the least Madam. It is just that I am busy with football practice.

Lady Penguin Patch-up: Now, is there something that you are hiding. You knew this would happen. I can talk to your coach. He will surely agree to an arrangement where neither football nor theatre suffers.

Kalsh: Madam it’s not that simple. What if I don’t feel like coming for practice? What if I don’t want to be in your play anymore? What if I choose to stick with being a soccer stud and not a sissy ballet dancer? You are smart enough to figure out that I did not volunteer myself. I got stuck with your crew. I was there for the girls!

Lady Penguin Patch-up: (she shifted to the seat beside me): Son, I know about that night. I have been in this business for 15 years. I have seen actors come and go. Tremendously talented dancers sweating it out to be the best, I have witnessed it all, but when I see you, it is different. You remind me of someone. You remind me that this is not a musical I am directing, but a story that needs to be told. Your perverted intentions are least of my concerns. But today if you give up dancing let me be clear I will lose Edward.
(There were tears in her eyes).
You have the gift. I can see it. Scintillating is the word for your performance.

Book 1: Page 22, Para 4

Then one day I had a visitor. I was surprised because I had spoken to my folks back in Delhi just the previous night. They had not mentioned anything about a visit. So I thought that it must be my uncle who was my local guardian. He stayed up hill in the cantonment area. I hadn’t visited him for a very long time since I had been busy with the ballet. But to my surprise It turned out that I had an official visitor. I made my way to the visitor’s lounge during the lunch break. There I saw our school principal who was having tea with a lady, Lady Penguin.

As I entered he left, leaving me at her mercy.

Book 1: Page 22, Para 1

I ran to the room where I had left my clothes. I wore the blazer over that despicable costume. The sheer fabric of the costume stuck to my body like a leach. I was full of regret and loathed the day I had chosen to step on the stage. Why had I been nominated for the play by Robot? Why had the girls not locked the green room? Why had i forgotten my long coat? Why had the practice room been so dark? Why had the mirror been strategically placed in the room? Why had that girl chosen the most important day of my acting career to walk into my life? That day that place, that fateful moment when everyone barged into the practice room, only to find me denuded by an illusionary woman? All this appeared to be the devil’s clockwork. I was still lost in my thoughts when Lady Penguin walked in. She took a seat beside me. I knew there were words in her mouth, sentences being framed by her mind, whispers being blown from her lips, but much before they could take the shape of a voice I decided to walk away.

BOOK1: Page 21, Para 3

My eyes opened after what appeared to be centuries of bliss. I was not the lone occupant of that furniture less room anymore. There were twenty three odd faces- all girls- and all staring at me. Their necks were tilted at a very comfortable angle and their eyes were focused in the most unimagined manner. I realized that it was not just my belly that had responded to the nose. The sheer cloth of my lovely dress did little to conceal my modesty. Here I was in a room surrounded by the elite members of the far better sex, and I did not have my coat to cover up. There was no nose, no hand and no reflection, only an excitement that had erected through my tights. In Dehradoon, the winter is bitterly cold due to the surrounding hills, yet my palms were full of sweat. My ears were burning red, (no pink!) They contrasted with my face which had turned pale. I could have never imagined that the stage show would turn out to be a source of mammoth mortification.


While staring into that mirror, I also saw a reflection other than mine. I could make out the female form of the image but I could not give it a name or a face. She came towards me as if floating in air. Instead of turning around I continued to admire her reflection in the mirror itself, which soon turned hazy before diminishing into a dark halo. I closed my eyes because whatever was happening wasn’t voluntary. There was nothing to be seen, only felt. Her left hand gripped my shoulder while she ruffled my fluffy hair with the right. I could vaguely make out her nose nestling near my neck. Her scent absolved me of the stage freight. Her lips brushed against my ear as she whispered, “Kalsh, thank god it’s you.”


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